Pink Floyd – The Wall
|Pink Floyd – The Wall|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alan Parker
Gerald Scarfe (animated scenes)
|Produced by||Alan Marshall|
|Screenplay by||Roger Waters|
|Based on||The Wall
by Roger Waters
|Narrated by||Pink Floyd|
|Music by||Pink Floyd
|Editing by||Gerry Hambling|
|Studio||Goldcrest Films International
|Distributed by||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (original)
Warner Bros. (current)
|Running time||95 minutes|
Pink Floyd – The Wall is a 1982 British live-action/animated musical film directed by Alan Parker based on the 1979 Pink Floyd album The Wall. The screenplay was written by Pink Floyd vocalist and bassist Roger Waters. The film is highly metaphorical and is rich in symbolic imagery and sound. It features very little dialogue and is mainly driven by the music of Pink Floyd.
Plot summary 
Pink, the protagonist (and unreliable narrator) of the film, is a rock star, one of several reasons behind his apparent depressive and detached emotional state. He is first seen in a quiet hotel room, having trashed it. The opening music is not by Pink Floyd, but is the Vera Lynn recording of "The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot". During the following scenes, it is revealed that Pink's father, a British soldier, was killed in action in the course of World War II in Pink's infancy, a reference to the death of Roger Waters' real-life father, Eric Fletcher Waters, in combat in Italy during Operation Shingle (the Battle of Anzio) in February 1944.
The film then flashes back to Pink as a young English boy growing up in the early 1950s. Throughout his childhood, Pink longs for a father figure after he learns his father died in the war. At school, he is humiliated for writing poems in class. The poems that the teacher seizes from him and reads aloud are lyrics from "Money" from The Dark Side of the Moon. After the teacher reads the poem out loud, Pink starts hallucinating the music video of "Another Brick in the Wall". Pink is also affected by his overprotective mother. He eventually gets married, but he and his wife grow apart and she has an affair while Pink is on tour. When Pink learns of the affair, he compensates with expensive materialistic possessions and turns to a willing groupie, whom he brings back to his hotel room only to trash it in a fit of violence, causing the groupie to flee in terror.
Pink slowly begins to lose his mind to metaphorical "worms". He shaves off all of his body hair and his eyebrows (an incident inspired by former bandmate Syd Barrett, who appeared at a 1975 recording session of Wish You Were Here, having shaved his eyebrows, head hair, and body hair) and, while watching The Dam Busters (1955) on television, morphs into his neo-fascist alter-ego. Pink's manager, along with the hotel manager and some paramedics, discover Pink and inject him with drugs to enable him to perform. The drugs cause Pink to hallucinate and he fantasises that he is a dictator and his concert a neo-fascist rally. His followers proceed to attack ethnic minorities, and Pink holds a rally in suburban London, singing "Waiting for the Worms". The scene is intercut with images of animated marching hammers that goose-step across ruins. Pink screams "Stop!" and takes refuge in a bathroom stall at the concert venue, reciting poems which would later be used as lyrics on Pink Floyd's "Your Possible Pasts" from The Final Cut album and "5:11 AM (The Moment of Clarity)" from Roger Waters' The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking. In an animated sequence, Pink puts himself on trial. He is depicted as a small, pink rag doll that rarely moves.
The film concludes with several children cleaning up a pile of debris after an earlier riot, with a freeze-frame on one of the children emptying a Molotov cocktail lasting until the credits.
- Bob Geldof as Pink
- Christine Hargreaves as Pink's mother
- Eleanor David as Pink's wife
- Alex McAvoy as Teacher
- Bob Hoskins as Rock-and-roll manager
- Michael Ensign as Hotel manager
- James Laurenson as J.A. Pinkerton (Pink's father)
- Jenny Wright as American groupie
- Margery Mason as Teacher's wife
- Ellis Dale as English doctor
- James Hazeldine as Lover
- Ray Mort as Playground father
- Robert Bridges as American doctor
- Joanne Whalley, Nell Campbell, Emma Longfellow, and Lorna Barton as Groupies
- Roger Waters (uncredited) as Best man
Even before the original Pink Floyd album was recorded, a film was intended to be made from it. However, the concept of the film was intended to be live footage from the album's tour, with Scarfe's animation and extra scenes. The film was going to star Waters himself. EMI did not intend to make the film, as they did not understand the concept.
Director Alan Parker, a Pink Floyd fan, asked EMI whether The Wall could be adapted to film. EMI suggested that Parker talk to Waters, who had asked Parker to direct the film. Parker instead suggested that he produce it and give the directing task to Scarfe and Michael Seresin, a cinematographer. Waters began work on the film's screenplay after studying scriptwriting books. He and Scarfe produced a special-edition book containing the screenplay and art to pitch the project to investors. While the book depicted Waters in the role of Pink, after screen tests, he was removed from the starring role; he was replaced with the punk musician Bob Geldof. In Behind the Wall, both Waters and Geldof later admitted to a story during casting where Geldof and his manager took a taxi to an airport, and Geldof's manager pitched the role to the singer, who continued to reject the offer and express his contempt for the project throughout the ride, unaware that the taxi driver was Waters' brother, who promptly proceeded to tell Waters about Geldof's opinion.
Since Waters was no longer in the starring role, it no longer made sense for the feature to include Pink Floyd footage, so the live film aspect was dropped. The footage culled from the five Wall concerts at Earl's Court from 13–17 June 1981 that were held specifically for filming was deemed unusable also for technical reasons as the fast Panavision lenses needed for the low light levels turned out to have insufficient resolution for the movie screen. Complex parts such as "Hey You" still had not been properly shot by the end of the live shows. Parker also managed to convince Waters and Scarfe that the concert footage was too theatrical and that it would jar with the animation and stage live action. After the concert footage was dropped, Seresin left the project and Parker became the only director connected to The Wall.
During production, Geldof suffered a cut to his hand while filming the destruction of the hotel room set as he pulls away the venetian blinds. The footage remains in the film. Also, it was discovered during the filming of the pool scenes that Geldof did not know how to swim. Interiors were shot at Pinewood Studios, and it was suggested that they suspend Geldof in Christopher Reeve's clear cast used for the Superman flying sequences from storage, but his frame was too small by comparison; it was then decided to make a smaller rig that was a more acceptable fit, and he simply lay on his back.
The film's official premiere was at the Empire, Leicester Square in London, on 14 July 1982. It was attended by Pink Floyd members Roger Waters, David Gilmour, and Nick Mason, but not Richard Wright, because he was no longer a member of the band. It was also attended by various celebrities including Bob Geldof, Paula Yates, Gerald Scarfe, Pete Townshend, Sting, Roger Taylor, James Hunt, Lulu, and Andy Summers.
Critical reception 
The film opened with a limited release on 6 August 1982 and entered at #28 of the US box office charts despite only playing in one theatre on its first weekend, grossing over $68,000, a rare feat even by today's standards. The film then spent just over a month below the top 20 while still in the top 30. The film later expanded to over 600 theatres on 10 September, achieving #3 at the box office charts, below E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and An Officer and a Gentleman. The film eventually earned $22 million before closing in early 1983. It earned its creators two British Academy Awards; 'Best Sound' for James Guthrie, Eddy Joseph, Clive Winter, Graham Hartstone & Nicholas Le Messurier; and 'Best Original Song' for Waters.
The film received generally favourable reviews. Reviewing The Wall on their television program At the Movies in 1982, film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel gave the film "two thumbs up". Ebert described The Wall as "a stunning vision of self-destruction" and "one of the most horrifying musicals of all time...but the movie is effective. The music is strong and true, the images are like sledge hammers, and for once, the rock and roll hero isn’t just a spoiled narcissist, but a real, suffering image of all the despair of this nuclear age. This is a real good movie." Siskel was more reserved in his judgment, stating that he felt that the film’s imagery was too repetitive. However, he admitted that the "central image" of the fascist rally sequence "will stay with me for an awful long time." In February 2010, Roger Ebert added The Wall to his list of "great movies," describing the film as "without question the best of all serious fiction films devoted to rock. Seeing it now in more timid times, it looks more daring than it did in 1982, when I saw it at Cannes...It's disquieting and depressing and very good." It was chosen for opening night of Ebertfest 2010.
While Rotten Tomatoes ranked the film with a critics review of 65% rating (of 17 reviews), the community of the website ranked the film with an 88% (out of 375 reviews). Danny Peary wrote that the "picture is unrelentingly downbeat and at times repulsive...but I don't find it unwatchable - which is more than I could say if Ken Russell had directed this. The cinematography by Peter Bizou is extremely impressive and a few of the individual scenes have undeniable power."
Waters has expressed deep reservations about the film, saying that the filming had been "a very unnerving and unpleasant experience... we all fell out in a big way." As for the film itself, he said: "I found it was so unremitting in its onslaught upon the senses, that it didn't give me, anyway, as an audience, a chance to get involved with it," although he had nothing but praise for Geldof's performance. Parker, who frequently clashed with Waters and Gerald Scarfe, described the filming as "one of the most miserable experiences of my creative life." David Gilmour stated (on the "In the Studio with Redbeard" episodes of The Wall, A Momentary Lapse of Reason and On an Island) that the conflict between him and Waters started with the making of the film. Gilmour also stated on the documentary Behind The Wall (which was aired on the BBC in the UK and VH1 in the US) that "the movie was the less successful telling of The Wall story as opposed to the album and concert versions."
A documentary was produced about the making of Pink Floyd – The Wall entitled The Other Side of the Wall that includes interviews with Parker, Scarfe, and clips of Waters, originally aired on MTV in 1982. A second documentary about the film was produced in 1999 entitled Retrospective that includes interviews with Waters, Parker, Scarfe, and other members of the film's production team. Both are featured on The Wall DVD as extras.
Song changes from album:
|"When the Tigers Broke Free" 1||New song, edited into two sections strictly for the film, but would later be released as one continuous song.|
|"In the Flesh?"||Extended/re-mixed/lead vocal re-recorded by Geldof.|
|"The Thin Ice"||Extended/re-mixed with additional piano overdub in second verse, baby sounds removed.|
|"Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1"||Unchanged.|
|"When the Tigers Broke Free" 2||New song.|
|"Goodbye Blue Sky"||Re-mixed.|
|"The Happiest Days of Our Lives"||Re-mixed. Helicopter sounds dropped, teacher's lines re-recorded by Alex McAvoy.|
|"Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2"||Re-mixed with extra lead guitar, children's chorus part edited and shortened, teacher's lines re-recorded by McAvoy and interspersed within children's chorus portion.|
|"Mother"||Re-recorded completely with exception of guitar solo and its backing track. The lyric "Is it just a waste of time?" is replaced with "Mother, am I really dying?", which is what appeared on the original LP lyric sheet.|
|"What Shall We Do Now?"||A full-length song which begins with the music of, and a similar lyric to "Empty Spaces". This was intended to be on the original album, and in fact appears on the original LP lyric sheet. At the last minute, it was dropped in favour of the shorter "Empty Spaces", which was originally intended as a reprise of "What Shall We Do Now". It is available, though, on the movie soundtrack or in a live version on Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980–81.|
|"Young Lust"||Screams added and phone call part removed. The phone call part was moved to the beginning of What Shall We Do Now|
|"One of My Turns"||Re-mixed.|
|"Don't Leave Me Now"||Shortened and remixed.|
|"Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3"||Re-recorded completely with a slightly faster tempo.|
|"Goodbye Cruel World"||Unchanged.|
|"Is There Anybody Out There?"||Classical guitar re-recorded, this time played by David Gilmour with a leather pick, as opposed to the album version, which was played finger-style by an uncredited session guitarist.|
|"Nobody Home"||Musically unchanged, but with different clips from the TV set.|
|"Bring the Boys Back Home"||Re-recorded completely with brass band and Welsh male vocal choir extended and Roger Waters' lead vocals removed.|
|"Comfortably Numb"||Re-mixed with screams added. Bass line partially different from album.|
|"In the Flesh"||Re-recorded completely with brass band and Bob Geldof on lead vocals.|
|"Run Like Hell"||Re-mixed and shortened.|
|"Waiting for the Worms"||Shortened but with extended coda.|
|"Stop"||Re-recorded completely with Geldof unaccompanied on lead vocals. (The audio in the background of this scene is from Gary Yudman's introduction from The Wall Live at Earl's Court.)|
|"Outside the Wall"||Re-recorded completely with brass band and Welsh male voice choir. Extended with a musical passage similar to "Southampton Dock" from the The Final Cut.|
The only songs from the album not used in the film are "Hey You" and "The Show Must Go On". "Hey You" was deleted as Waters and Parker felt the footage was too repetitive (eighty percent of the footage appears in montage sequences elsewhere) but available to view as in worn black and white work print form as a bonus feature on the DVD release under the name "Reel 13".
A soundtrack album from Columbia Records was listed in the film's end credits, but only a single containing "When the Tigers Broke Free" and the rerecorded "Bring the Boys Back Home" was released. "When the Tigers Broke Free" later became a bonus track on the band's 1983 album The Final Cut, an album Waters intended as an extension to The Wall. Guitarist David Gilmour, however, dismissed the album as a collection of songs that had been rejected for The Wall project, but were being recycled. The song, in the edit used for the single, also appears on the 2001 compilation album Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.
Chart positions 
|2005||Australian ARIA DVD Chart||#10|
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- Original screenplay by Roger Waters